10 self-care tips for Gamers who are struggling with mental illness

Hey, Gamers! I feel like I’ve been pretty open about my mental illnesses, and lately, I’ve noticed a trend in a lot of gamers having mental illnesses. So, I wanted to share some tips that have helped both me and my partner over the years as we are both gamers and struggle with mental illness. We are students so I’m not sure all of these will work for people with 9-5 jobs etc, but I figured if I could help one person, it would be worth it. So, let’s get to it!

  1. Dry shampoo is your friend.
    A huge problem that comes with mental illness is keeping up with personal hygiene. If you’re a streamer who just hasn’t had the energy to shower or someone whose friends or family want to do a video chat, dry shampoo will help a lot. If you don’t have dry shampoo, baby powder also works (but does require more rubbing it into your hair and your hair won’t feel great after). A plus is that not only are you being social by being able to stream/video call, but you’re making yourself look put together. Sometimes you just need something to be easier to get you back to your usual self, and this is a great way to do that.
  2. It’s okay to just play your comfort game.
    I play a lot of my comfort game when my mental health goes bad. I hated myself for the longest time because I needed to play new games or play multiplayer games… but I didn’t have the energy for that. I had to admit to myself that playing different games takes different amounts of energy and it’s okay if you only have the energy to play that same game again. New things can wait, but at least you’re doing something.
  3. Handheld consoles. Just trust me on this one.
    This is going to make me sound like I’m saying that everyone can afford to get a new console just because they’re depressed so uh please know that is not what I am saying. What I am saying is on the days that you can’t leave your bed and you just want to lay there, a handheld console can really help your mood. I personally use the Switch (Stardew Valley has over 120 hours and I only got it in April/May), but if the Switch isn’t charged or I just don’t want to deal with the stress of farming or moving everything around on our island in Animal Crossing, there’s also consoles like the DS. Older consoles aren’t our usual standard of gaming, but it might be nice to lay there playing a game you used to love or always wanted to finish. It helps get rid of the ‘I’ve done nothing all day, I’m such a bad person’ feeling that often comes with bad mental health.
  4. Avoid games where mental illness is a central theme.
    This will be a hard one for some people, but the issue with games with mental illness is you’re going to compare yourself to the characters and you don’t need that right now. You are your own person and everyone struggles with mental health issues in their own way. If you want to play the game another time, come back to it when you’re in a better state of mind. You don’t want to compare yourself to fictional characters whose struggles have likely been exaggerated for dramatic effect.
  5. One glass of water a day keeps the dehydration at bay.
    So this is a huge one for me because I got so so so sick from dehydration in January 2020. I was just drinking diet coke, thinking it was fine because at least I was drinking something. So, I need you to go and get some water. Either right now, or when you wake up each day, or before you go to sleep each night. This is so important. I was lucky enough that Josh was there when I was sick, but I know that a lot of gamers live alone and I would really hate for someone to get as sick as I did. Mental health sucks, but you have to drink water. Please, if you follow one thing from this post, let it be this one.
  6. Let the people who care about you know what’s going on.
    Okay, I am the worst at replying when my mental health is bad. Like, ask my best friend, months can easily go by and she hasn’t heard a peep. Don’t do that. Don’t be me. I am learning and trying. Just a quick ‘hey, I just need some alone time right now as I am going through things. Please don’t worry, I’ll be safe. I’ll text you when I can’ text can do wonders for their mental health, as well as yours as they know what’s going on and won’t hate you for not texting them in so much time.
  7. Food. Eat.
    So I know a ton of people struggle with this, whether they just forget or they have an ED, so just know your limits but know that this is important. So depending on what’s wrong, I do food in two ways: functional, or fun. Functional includes things just cheesy pasta, instant noodles, oven pizzas. Quick, easy, done. Pop it on, set a timer and I usually play on the switch while I’m waiting. Even if it’s just one meal a day, it’s better than nothing. Preferably you’ll be eating snacks and hopefully another meal if you can do that, but something is always better than nothing. The next way is fun. This can include trying to replicate food off of games or anime that I’ve seen. This one is hit and miss, to be honest. You have to already have the ingredients and have the energy to do it, and there’s always a bunch of dishes after. But if you have the same problem as I often do (so stressed you can’t focus), then this might be for you!
  8. Changing environments.
    If your games console is in your bedroom, move it. Actually, just move it anyway. Even if you just move it across the room. I know it looks overwhelming but from my experience, the PS4 only has 2 wires. You’ll have done something big and created a new space for you to spend time. Changes in the environment are good for you when you’ve been sat in the same place for weeks.
  9. Don’t focus on the bad feelings.
    Okay, this is another one that might sound a bit stupid but it’s actually not. I’m not going to be one of those people who are like ‘just think positive thoughts and it’ll cure your illness’ because that is not how mental illness works. My intention here is to have you focus on the little wins that you have when you’re suffering bad from mental illness. The things that wouldn’t normally be an accomplishment but is because things are bad right now. You don’t have the energy to make pizza so you made toast instead? Awesome job at making toast! You don’t have the energy to play your favourite game but you can play a simple platformer that’s giving you some sort of satisfaction? Cool, tell me more about that platformer. See what I’m doing? If you focus on what you can’t do, as cliché as it sounds, you’ll trick your brain into thinking you can’t do anything. I’m not saying to be positive all the time. I’m saying that when you’re suffering from mental illness, you need to celebrate those wins. I remember the last time my mental health was bad, I washed a plate and I rewarded myself with ice cream because I didn’t think I could wash the plate. The little things need rewarding when everything seems bad.
  10. Shower.
    So for those who don’t know us personally, we’re both autistic and my partner is not fond of the shower because of that. Over the years of being with him, I’ve gotten a bit lax with my own personal hygiene when my mental health is bad. Showering is usually the first thing I do when I start to feel better. However, the past few months have made me realise that if I have the energy… I should use that to shower. For anyone who doesn’t know, not showering can lead to skin issues, infections, and even worse stuff. I didn’t know that until recently, as stupid as it sounds, I always thought we showered more for other people than ourselves. So even if you’re really suffering from your mental health and you’re not going outside because of it… showering is still important.
    Here’s how I’ve started to do it when I’m suffering badly with my mental illnesses: So the first step is to go onto YouTube and pick a video from someone who you find okay. Not your favourite, but not annoying. I’ve recently started using DangerouslyFunny because I like Stardew Valley and he uses mods that I can’t have so it’s not a big deal if I don’t hear something. I then turn the shower on and brush my teeth before getting in. I check what time the video is on, I jump in the shower, and my goal is to be out before the video is over. That gives me about 10-15 minutes in the shower. I don’t come out if I’m not done, but it means that I can do things quickly and efficiently in order to conserve energy. As I said, if I need longer then I take longer, but the more time I spend in the shower, the less energy I’ll have for the rest of the day. I focus on the important bits (underarms, under breasts and genital area) because if I can’t do anything else, at least that’s done. Obviously, I have longer showers when I can, but it’s also important to shower when your mental health is bad. Like I said before, something is always better than nothing. On days when you just can’t shower, use a baby wipe or something to wipe down your body just to keep it a bit cleaner. I know it’s not the best solution but it’s better than nothing at all.

That’s it for this post, Gamers! I would do more, but I didn’t want to overwhelm anyone. I hope everyone is okay and looking after themselves. Remember to be kind, to both others and yourself. See you next post, Gamers!

One thought on “10 self-care tips for Gamers who are struggling with mental illness

  1. Good advice. I can relate to some of what you’ve written here. Depression is a hard thing to deal with — I neglected my health for a long time because of it, and only in the last few years I’ve gotten myself somewhat together again in that sense. I’ve always avoided prescriptions, but I know they’re necessary in some cases. Thankfully, I can get by and live a productive life at least without them, but when you have to keep putting on an act every day it does wear you down.

    The advice about how to approach games also makes sense. I wish I could justify a Switch purchase to myself right now, but I still can’t. It would be useful in that sense, though.

    Liked by 1 person

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